Too cool after school
Are the kids still bursting with energy after the home-time bell rings? There’s no excuse to be slumped on the sofa – from music and painting to martial arts, Bahrain’s kids are spoiled for choice for after school fun Discuss this article
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Parents everywhere will recognise this very familiar scene: after eight hours in school and tons of homework, most kids feel like lazing around and doing nothing ’til dinner time. Unwinding is important, but that free time after school could be a great opportunity to brush-up kids’ physical, artistic or social skills, and also widens their interests from an early age.
‘It is very important for children to embrace after-school activities as it helps them to socialise with other kids outside of their school circle,’ recommends Jude D’Souza, instructor and general secretary of the Bahrain Hockey Association. ‘Well-chosen activities can also help uncover a child’s hidden talents, which can strengthen their self-esteem in the long-run.’
So the good news is that, yes, there is life beyond the sofa, with all sorts of activities, from sports to music and crafts, on offer. But with so many options, where do we draw the line to prevent kids from being overwhelmed?
The first rule is for parents to take a step back and stop projecting their own ambitions onto their kids, explains Tala Bahsmi, communication manager and art instructor at the Al Riwaq Art Space. ‘All parents want to see their children reaching their full potential. However, all children should be able to choose which direction they would prefer to head towards.’
After letting kids choose their favourite activities, it is time to establish a healthy and feasible schedule. ‘Some parents overload their kids with five after-school activities a week,’ says Ehab Eshehawi, chief instructor and director of the Japan Karate Association Bahrain. ‘I suggest choosing two activities – which they really like – and focusing on them. ’
Others in Bahrain agree. ‘A good balance would be to combine something physical as well as something stimulating, such as music and art,’ says Farah Faraj, director of My Gym Bahrain. With so much already going
on in their lives, after school should be fun – not a chore. So help your kids to make their pick and have a blast!
Best for: Weight and self-esteem issues
There is nothing like getting moving to use up all that energy – as well as burning off those calories and any extra weight that might make kids feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Activities like gymnastics, dancing, running, jumping (and all sorts of fun exercises that will have your kid happily bouncing up and down) will work on their strength, flexibility and endurance, but also help reinforce confidence and self-esteem. My Gym offers all these activities, with a programme that includes story time, crafts and arts. No more excuses for lazing around!
My Gym: Al Victory Suites, Seef. Sun-Wed, 9pm-6.30pm, Thu and Sat 9am-1pm with birthday parties in the afternoons (1756-6566, www.my-gym.com). Family membership for BD35 and three-monthly session fees for BD96, 11-week course BD85. Kids from six months to 13 years.
Best for: Creativity, artistic skills, critical thinking
If your kids are excited about art projects in school (or if you sometimes find a little drawing on that wall behind the couch), painting, sculpture and even photography may be the best choices to entertain them. ‘Arts classes are recommended for all children, whether they have to work on their concentration, coordination or their creativity,’ says Al Riwaq Art Space’s Tala Bahsmi. ‘It’s also important that they make a connection with one another, so that they don’t only learn from each other but focus on developing social skills.’ Tala believes that art helps children develop their confidence. ‘Art allows each child to express themselves in ways they weren’t able to before. Being creative helps improve their critical thinking skills and imagination.’ The centre offers workshops on painting, sculpture, recycled art and photography.
Al Riwaq Art Space: 3 Osama Bin Zaid Avenue, Adliya. Hours tbc: Sat-Thu 4pm-6pm or 5pm-7pm, early morning or afternoon on weekends (17 717 441, www.alriwaqartspace.com). BD40 a month (four classes). Kids from five-15.
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